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NEW YORK JETS (12-5) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (14-2)
Sportsbook.com Line/Total: New England -9 & 44.5
The Patriots and Jets meet for the season rubber match in New England with an AFC Championship Game berth on the line. The Jets dominated the second half and frustrated Tom Brady in beating the Pats 28-14 in Week 2, but New England crushed New York 45-3 in the Week 13 rematch as Brady threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers.
Since that drubbing, the Jets have won road games in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, whom they beat 17-16 on a last-second field goal last week. New York ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing yards (148 YPG), and actually rushed for 152 yards in the 45-3 loss in New England. LaDainian Tomlinson (914 yards, 4.2 YPC, 6 TD this year) has gained 831 total yards and five touchdowns in seven career games against New England. The Jets’ passing offense has been inconsistent, with Mark Sanchez throwing just one touchdown and six interceptions in his past five games, including three picks at New England. The Patriots pass defense currently ranks third-worst in the NFL with 259 passing YPG allowed, but their 25 interceptions lead the NFL.
Speaking of interceptions, Brady has not thrown one since Week 6, an NFL-record run of 335 passes in a row without a pick. He has 36 TD and 4 INT for the season and has only lost one home game in his past 29 starts, a 33-14 defeat to Baltimore in last season’s playoffs. Brady is also 8-1 at home in his postseason career with his only loss coming against the Ravens. The Patriots also rank ninth in the NFL in rushing (123 YPG), but the Jets boast the third-best run defense in football (91 YPG). The Patriots have turned the ball over just once in the past eight games, while forcing 24 turnovers in those eight contests. They are a perfect 8-0 over this span, winning by an average score of 32 to 16.
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GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-6) at ATLANTA FALCONS (13-3)
Sportsbook.com Line/Total: Atlanta -2.5 & NFL Lines 43.5
The red-hot Packers travel south to face the NFC’s top-seeded Falcons on Saturday night. This is a rematch of Week 12, when Atlanta edged Green Bay 20-17 at home.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers earned his first career playoff win last Sunday when his team upset the Eagles 21-16. Rodgers threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns in the win. He connected with nine different receivers and seven of those were targeted more than once. That gives Rodgers 603 passing yards, 7 TD and 1 INT in two career playoff games. The big star for Green Bay last week was rookie RB James Starks who set a franchise rookie playoff record with 123 rushing yards.
Matt Ryan makes his second playoff start, and first at home where he is 20-2 as a starter. In his 2008 rookie season, Ryan had a disappointing postseason debut, throwing for 199 yards, 2 TD and 2 INT in a 30-24 loss at Arizona. This year, Ryan has been stellar, throwing for 3,705 yards, 28 TD and just 9 INT. WR Roddy White has 115 catches for 1,389 yards and 10 TD, while TE Tony Gonzalez has caught 70 balls for 656 yards and six scores. All three players will have to perform at the top of their game against the Packers’ fifth-best pass defense in the league (194 YPG). Atlanta also boasts a top-notch running game with Michael Turner who has rumbled for 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns. He should find some holes in a Green Bay rushing defense allowing 115 YPG (18th in league).
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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (5-8) at SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (7-6)
Sportsbook.com Line & Total: San Diego -9.5 & 44.5
Two California teams clinging to playoff hopes meet in a must-win situation for both teams on Thursday night. San Francisco is 5-8 and trails division leaders St. Louis and Seattle by one game. San Diego’s win over Kansas City last week put the 7-6 Chargers a game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West standings. Both teams have major injury problems. In addition to RB Frank Gore on IR (hip), the 49ers’ top two linebackers, Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes, are both suffering hand injuries and are both listed as questionable.
San Diego has a slew of offensive injuries. WR Patrick Crayton (wrist) is out, TE Antonio Gates (feet) is doubtful and WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Thursday’s game. The good news is that WRs Vincent Jackson (calf) and Legedu Naanee (hamstring) will both play against San Francisco.
The 49ers are playing much better football recently, winning five of eight games after starting the season 0-5. Alex Smith will start at quarterback again for San Francisco after completing 17-of-27 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 40-21 win over Seattle. Smith, who missed the previous five games with a shoulder injury, is tasked with moving the football against the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL. San Diego is only allowing 173 passing YPG with only one game of surrendering 300 passing yards.
Despite Gore’s injury, San Francisco has rushed the ball well in its past three games with 453 yards on 4.7 yards per carry. Brian Westbrook has 190 rushing yards in the three games and also caught six passes for 87 yards and a touchdown against Seattle last week. Rookie RB Anthony Dixon has also thrived in his increased role, gaining 147 yards on 37 carries (4.0 YPC) since Gore got hurt. TE Vernon Davis is now healthy and a much bigger factor in the offense with Alex Smith throwing him the football. Davis has nine catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games.
The Chargers are also hot, winning five of their past six games (SU and ATS). After rushing for just 21 yards in a loss to Oakland, San Diego ripped off 207 rushing yards in the win over Kansas City, while holding the NFL’s top rushing offense to 48 yards on 17 carries. Mike Tolbert (16 rush, 66 yds, TD) and Ryan Mathews (16 rush, 65 yds, TD) had nearly identical numbers against KC, while Darren Sproles ran for 53 yards on just six carries. San Diego could have more success this week if Willis and Spikes are sidelined for San Francisco.
75% of action at Sportsbook.com is behind the home team Chargers against the spread.
The running game will be key if Gates and Floyd, the team’s top two receivers, are limited on Thursday. The duo has combined for 1,442 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns this year. Despite all the injuries in the passing game this season, San Diego still ranks second in the league in passing offense. QB Philip Rivers has thrown for 298 YPG with 26 TD and 11 INT and should have success against the 49ers’ 20th-ranked pass defense giving up 227 YPG. The Chargers have only won the turnover battle three times all season and have a minus-7 turnover ratio for the year.
Play Against - Home favorites of 3.5 to 10 points (SAN DIEGO) - after having won 2 out of their last 3 games, a marginal winning team (51% to 60%) playing a losing team in the second half of the season. (24-4 over the last 10 seasons.) (85.7%, +19.6 units.)
Play Under - Home teams where the total is between 42.5 and 49 points (SAN DIEGO) - after 1 or more consecutive wins against the spread, a marginal winning team (51% to 60%) playing a losing team in the second half of the season. (25-6 since 1983.) (80.6%, +18.4 units.)
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NEW YORK JETS (9-2) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-2)
Sportsbook.com using Patriots -4 & 45
One of the NFL’s biggest rivalries is renewed, and these are two of the league’s hottest teams. The Jets dominated the second half and frustrated Tom Brady in beating the Pats 28-14 in Week 2. Since then, each team has gone 8-1 SU, with New England 5-3-1 ATS and the Jets 6-3 ATS. The Patriots offense is much more diverse since they traded Randy Moss, which should lessen the impact of shutdown CB Darrelle Revis. Both teams are relatively healthy, with Jets OT Damien Woody (knee), WR Jerricho Cotchery (groin) and DBs Marquice Cole (hamstring) and Dwight Lowery (concussion) all expected to play on Monday night.
The Jets have been true road warriors, carrying an eight-game SU winning streak away from home, including a 5-0 mark this year. New York ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing yards (148 YPG), led by LaDainian Tomlinson (741 yards, 4.5 YPC, 5 TD). The future Hall-of-Famer has gained 770 total yards and five touchdowns in six career games against New England. The Jets’ passing offense has been inconsistent, but Mark Sanchez has averaged 279 passing YPG in his past four games, with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Sanchez had a huge day in the Week 2 win over New England, completing 70 percent of his passes for 220 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Patriots pass defense currently ranks last in the NFL with 289 passing YPG allowed.
New England has won 25 straight home games with Tom Brady as the starting quarterback. With the Jets boasting the third-best run defense in football (86 YPG), Brady will look to air it out Monday night. Tom Terrific has been just that in his past six games, throwing for 250 YPG, 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. For his regular-season career against New York, Brady has a 12-5 record and has thrown for 3,614 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Patriots have not turned the ball over in five of their past six games, while forcing 11 turnovers in those five contests.
Brady has also won six of seven at home versus the Jets. These three trends show why Brady and New England will win and cover on Monday night.
Belichick is 31-10 ATS (+20.0 Units) after having won 4 out of their last 5 games as the coach of NEW ENGLAND. The average score was NEW ENGLAND 25.9, OPPONENT 17.0 - (Rating = 4*).
NEW ENGLAND is 27-10 ATS (+16.0 Units) revenging a same season loss against opponent since 1992.
The average score was NEW ENGLAND 21.9, OPPONENT 19.0 - (Rating = 2*).
Play Against - Road teams (NY JETS) - solid team - outgaining their opponents by 50 or more yards/game, after allowing 200 or less total yards in their previous game. (44-18 over the last 10 seasons.) (71%, +24.2 units. Rating = 2*).
Sportsbook.com betting trends show that 75% of action on the spread is backing Brady & the Patriots tonight.
Bill Belichick is 8-0 UNDER (+8.0 Units) in home games when playing against a top-level team (Win Pct. > 75%) in the second half of the season as the coach of NEW ENGLAND. The average score was NEW ENGLAND 21.1, OPPONENT 10.5 - (Rating = 3*).
Play Under - Any team where the total is between 42.5 and 49 points (NY JETS, NEW ENGLAND) - in a game involving two good offensive teams (335 to 370 YPG). (204-128 since 1983.) (61.4%, +63.2 units. Rating = 2*).